AMD will bring its latest graphics hardware based on DirectX 11 to laptops by early next year, aiming to make graphics in Windows 7 smoother and more realistic.

AMD will first offer graphics cards with DirectX 11 for desktops, but it will deliver them for laptops early next year, said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's products group, during an interview Thursday at an event in Alameda, California. The first laptops will get support for DirectX 11 through discrete graphics cards for games, and the technology will trickle down to integrated graphics cards by 2011. Workstation-class DirectX 11 boards are expected to follow

The company has already demonstrated ATI Radeon discrete graphics cards for desktops with DirectX 11 capabilities, though the company has not announced release dates for the products. However, AMD said it would have an announcement related to DirectX 11 products on Sept. 23. The desktop products will be out by the time Microsoft Windows 7 launches on Oct 22, AMD has said.

3D gets more real

DirectX 11 is a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) that will come with Windows 7 and should allow for more realistic images and 3D experiences. For example, DirectX 11 will let 3D artists create more realistic images through improved three-dimension modelling and faster frame rates. A feature called 'Compute Shader' is designed harness the parallel-processing capabilities of GPUs (graphics processing units) to improve 3D performance.

The technology is also designed to boost the performance of online and high-definition video playback, and it will let users instantly convert video clips simply by dragging and dropping them from PCs to portable devices.

Beyond graphics, DirectX 11 will help Windows 7 recognize multicore systems, which will speed up creative applications, Bergman said. The tools distribute tasks over multiple CPUs and GPUs for simultaneous execution. Such capabilities could reduce the strain on the CPU while offloading more tasks to the graphics processors.

DirectX 11 is the successor to DirectX 10 and 10.1, which came with Windows Vista. AMD may be the first to ship DirectX 11-equipped hardware if it launches a graphics card later this month. Nvidia has said it will support DirectX 11, but it hasn't provided a specific hardware release date.

AMD also supports the OpenCL standard, an alternative to DirectX, for which the company has released both CPU and GPU drivers. Apple uses the OpenCL standard in its current Mac OS X 10.6, code-named Snow Leopard, to break up the execution of tasks and manage tasks over multiple cores and other resources.